The institution of halukkah: a historical review

Articles Image

The Hebrew word halukkah, meaning 'division', has, from the Middle Ages, been used to describe the collection and distribution of money to Jews living in the Holy Land, and especially in Jerusalem, to enable them to study with? out having to earn a living. The duty to help the poor is derived from Deuteronomy 15:7-8: 'If there be among you a needy man, one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates, in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy hand from thy needy brother; but thou shalt surely open thy hand unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanteth.' Rabbinic commentators concluded that the poor of one's own township ('of thy gates') take priority over those elsewhere, but, more importantly, that the inhabitants of the Land of Israel have priority over those of other lands ('in thy land'), an idea made explicit in the definitive codification of Jewish law, Shulhan Arukh, which states: 'The inhabitants of the Holy Land must be assisted before the inhabitants of any other land'.1 The special status of Jerusalem was pointed out by Rabbi Moshe Schreiber, a nineteenth-century leader of Hungarian Jewry, who saw it as the holiest place in Israel because it had been the site of the Temple.2 Another reason for which residents of the Holy Land had first call on alms was the view that the Yishuv ('settlement') in Eretz Israel protected the graves of the Patriarchs and Sages among others, together with ancient synagogues and Sifrei Torah, from attack by non-Jews.3 Furthermore, Diaspora Jewry had come to the view that it was important to support their co-religionists in the Land of Israel engaged in talmudic study, for these were seen as preparing for the coming Redemption. It was also regarded as a way of fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Eretz Israel by proxy

Become a member to read the full article
Become a member today

£7

24 hour access to JHSE online resources

Instant access to over 700 articles View the original articles as a PDF
Learn More

£40

Annual JHSE Membership

Members are entitled to a free copy of the latest Jewish Historical Studies, free access to our online resources and associate membership of the UCL Library in London.  In addition, they receive the JHSE Newsletter, special offers on books for sale and pay less to attend our series of lectures and other public events.
Learn More

£20

Student Membership

The JHSE want to encourage students to engage with Jewish history.  Apply for a Student Membership with your university email account and once we have verified your status you will soon have all the benefits of being a full JHSE member.
Learn More

£80

Associate your Institution with the JHSE

Give your members access to JHSE online resources and special offers on book sales.  Use your institutional email account when applying, and once your status is verified we will explain the scheme.  Preferred payment is by credit or debit card.
Learn More
0

Your Cart